I didn’t have a dog as a kid. I settled for an aquarium of fish, and some feral kittens which were not allowed in the house. Now that I’ve been a mother, I understand my mom’s reluctance — she raised five of us. I had no idea how to take care of or train a dog, so I didn’t add one to my own busy household.
However, daughter Susan never met a creature she didn’t adore.
After rain, she’d pick up worms from the sidewalk and gently place them on the parkway, concerned the cement would hurt their little pink bellies.
I have Susan to thank for many pleasures, but especially for having had the privilege of living with Buttons, the smartest dog in the whole wide world. I suspect Susan went to school each day with some cheese squirreled away in her pocket. The dog Buttons wandered freely about our neighborhood.
The love affair between Susan and Buttons blossomed quickly. I began finding Buttons at home when I got in from work. Sometimes, I’d meet her at our front door. She’d give me a polite little hello, the door would open, and in she’d march as if she owned the place. Still, she wasn’t our dog.
One morning I found Buttons happily asleep with Susan. It was time for a family conference. We discussed the situation and decided we were willing to buy the dog for no more than $100 — if her owners would sell. A leash turned up from I know not where, we attached it to Buttons’ collar and off we went. Susan knew where Buttons lived, but we had to drag the poor thing up the walkway.
The mother of two boys invited us in. She said she was going through a divorce and was aware her sons were not being kind to Buttons. When she opened her front door, she knew exactly where Buttons ran to. She didn’t want any money. She was relieved Buttons would be well loved and cared for. We were a happy troupe going home, including Buttons.
Buttons, realizing I needed to be trained to take care of her, embarked on educating
me. She was meticulous, taught me where she wanted to conduct her toilette (never on our property), what and when (always) she wanted to eat and how much she enjoyed a little peanut butter.
My Parisian in-laws insisted Buttons understood French. On visits, while I was at work, they delighted in her. They’d ask her (in French — they spoke no English) if she wanted a walk. She’d respond by going to the door, tail wagging. They’d ask her, again in French, to speak, which she did, just as she would in English. We made tapes to send them in Paris, so they could listen as often as they liked. Of course, Buttons always said hello. They’d play the tapes for their neighbors — Buttons was the star of the show.
I’d hold Buttons close, tell her she wasn’t gorgeous but I loved her and she’d happily lick my face in return for the non-compliment. Although when she was groomed and had pretty ribbons in her hair, she pranced around and was, indeed, a beauty. She was the cleverest dog I ever had. Yes, there were others. AJ was prettier, but Buttons at half his size, was the boss. She’d jump up and nip him on the nose if he was out of line.
Buttons WAS definitely brilliant. She CHOSE her family. She DECIDED to move in. She TRAINED us. She also gave us loads of love which we returned with pleasure.